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How We Chose Names for Our Children

choosing childrens names

Deciding on a name for your child is one of the most intimidating parts of impending parenthood. There can be so much pressure to pick the perfect name. One that your child will have forever and may very well shape their future.

I feel fortunate when it came to choosing names for our kids, it came pretty easily to us. Jim and I favored unique names that weren’t too crazy, hard to spell or mispronounce. While Jim and I aren’t married, we gave both Lawson and Sybil his last name. Here’s the story behind each of their names, nicknames and the other names we considered.

Lawson James

It really wasn’t a question if we’d find out the gender when I was pregnant. The anticipation would have been too hard and I’m a type A planner at heart, including when it comes to thinking about naming our child. Because of my age, we had genetic screening done at week 10. I remember exactly where I was when the nurse called to tell me the tests were all good. After breathing a sigh of relief, I quickly asked if it was a boy or a girl.

After surprising Jim with a blue cupcake, he looked across the room and saw a Lawless Denim bag I had gotten at a recent blog event. He said “what about Lawson?” Initially I liked it, but I had never met a Lawson and worried that it was a made up name until I searched the social security list and saw it was actually ranked 437 in 2015. From then on, every other name we considered never quite measured up.

The middle name was pretty easy too. Jim is actually named after his dad. While we didn’t want to continue the exact name, we did love the idea of using James as a middle name to honor both Jim and his dad. James also has significance on my side of the family. Lastly, we thought LJC were strong initials.

Sybil Adelaide

Much like Lawson’s name, Sybil became a front runner before the end of the first trimester when we found out she was a girl.

We were in the midst of watching the last season of Downton Abbey. If you’re not familiar with Downton Abbey, there are three sisters – Lady Mary, Lady Edith and Lady Sybil. Lady Sybil had a lot of spunk and wasn’t afraid to go against her family or tradition. She fought for causes and people she believed in. (She also died giving birth to her daughter, but let’s ignore that part for purposes of this story.)

I loved Sybil from the moment I brought it up as a possibility. In a reversal from deciding on Lawson’s name, it took Jim longer to be convinced. He always liked it but was concerned it was too old of a name.

Again, we consulted the social security directory. The last time Sybil was ranked in the top 1000 was 1966; it peaked in popularity in 1919 I was shocked it was less popular than Lawson as I’d actually heard of Sybil!

Her middle name was harder. We liked the idea of honoring our love of travel by picking a middle name that represented a place. Acadia and Adelboden made the list. In the end we settled on Adelaide. Jim studied in Australia and it was a name that was also a city. We actually went back and forth between Sybil Adelaide and Sybil Celeste (a little too sing songy) up until the night before she was born.

I actually thought about changing Sybil’s middle name up until she was a year old. When I couldn’t come up with anything I liked better than Adelaide, I decided it was time to let it go.


As someone with a name that doesn’t easily have a nickname, we thought about what our kids might be called. I probably spent too much time thinking about it since I remember giving myself the nickname Ricki around middle school when it seemed everyone else had a cool one (it never stuck).

I am strongly against LJ as a nickname for Lawson, but Jim will occasionally shorten his name to Law or call him Lawman. I prefer to use his given name and rarely use a nickname.

Sybil on the other hand has several nicknames that are used more than her given name! She readily answers to Sybie, Bee and even Sybs. They just seem to fit her.

Other Options

I still have the handwritten lists of other names we considered for both Lawson and Sybil. These are the top names we liked:


Eleanor (I had a hard time spelling it)

Choosing a name is such a personal decision. It may be a stressor while you’re pregnant, but I’m a firm believer that once you choose a name, your baby just becomes that person. At least in my experience, I can’t imagine Lawson or Sybil as anything different. Looking at the other names we considered makes me giggle. Those names just aren’t my babies!

P.S. In case you’re curious, a quick google search of Lawless Denim indicates they were the subject of complaints from customers that ordered jeans and never received them. They are no longer operating and were ordered to pay fines. Oops!

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